27 December 2011
Seasonal Greetings Family,
This short alert contains details of Kwanzaa events taking place in the UK.
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Peace, Love & Justice
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Nyansapo - is the weekly internet based community radio station hosted by the Ligali Organisation. We broadcast honest and progressive discussion of community issues alongside pan African news, current affairs and feature reviews of cultural media and events.
Identity Politics and Rainbow Coloured People:
The African or 'black' Debate
You can listen to archived podcasts of previous Pan African Drum programmes at http://www.ligali.org/nyansapo/drum.php
The Pan African Drum
"“Good sometin’ easy fe fling ‘way, but hard fe pick up”
African Proverb, Jamaican
Greetings and Habari Gani,
The last time I wrote like this there were a zillion typos although enough of you seemed to enjoy the washing machine blues (thanks for getting in touch and sharing in my insanity).
I apologise in advance for any errors that are in what’s next to come but I wanted to share something with you that I felt more interesting and at least a teeny weensy bit more seasonal than a rambling debate about stabbing, shootings and the apocalyptic the state of the world (ironically as I write this I can hear the sounds of several police sirens most likely racing to a crime scene).
Anyways… yesterday I found out how old I was. No let me correct that. Yesterday I found out how wide the gap between generations was becoming for some of us. As we sat around the table, belly satisfied, music playing, Naija Idol on telly and children playing games and others unwrapping presents (this is the seasonal bit - one) I decided to ask my nephews and nieces what they and their friends were listening to on their iPods. The young women got all excited and started reciting names.
“Movado, Demarco, Davinci and Vibes Kartel” - I almost choked on my sweet bread.
“Vibes Kartel… you mean the skin bleaching, self hating, murder suspect?” - I responded.
For the next half hour we spoke (ok, ok, I lectured them) about artists who have been given a gift and chose to abuse it for promoting slackness and making profit. But this was a dancehall list so I asked for other genres. They then mentioned soca artists like Marchel Montana, Little Rick, Skinny Fabulous. Buffy, Blaxx and Iwer George. My eyes glazed over, I had to admit I didn’t have a clue who they were talking about and was more confused than when I started.
So noticing that the responses came mainly from the girls I turned to the young men and asked them what they and their boys were listening to in the world of hip hop. Two names that kept coming up were “Drake and Fabulous”.
“Who? Hip Hop not Hip Pop” I said. They laughed.
“What about Dead Prez” I added?
“Immortal technique, Akala, EPMD, Rakim... Public Enemy?”
“Ah yeah… “ They knew Chuck D but all the others were a mystery. One of the girls added “I like Snoop”.
My heart sank.
Ok, then what about soul or so called r’n’b? You must know the Jill Scott’s, Marvin Gaye’s. They nodded their head in agreement before a new list came fast from both men and women, “Trey Songz, J Cole, Marcus Houston, Mindless Behaviour, Lyfe Jennings, Chris Brown’.
By now my head was hurting. I didn’t know any of them apart from the Brown boy who had made the news headlines for beating up his girlfriend. So I asked what would stop them listening to an artist’s music, and raised the name R Kelly.
There was some confusion with my question. ‘What’s wrong with R Kelly’? They asked. The conversation then took a serious tone as I expanded on some of the details of Kelly’s paedophile activities, including his annulled ‘marriage’ to Aaliyah when she was still a child. They were horrified. I told them about how there is an artist called Paul ‘Gary Glitter’ Gadd, who was sent to jail for abusing underage girls in impoverished countries and how that the radio stations in this country won’t play his records despite loving them, how others won’t dance to his so called classics and yet in contrast whenever many of us hear Kelly songs like ‘Happy people’ or ‘I believe I can fly’ we start cheering and stepping to the beat of a ‘born again’ child rapist as if he was the pied piper.
They were horrified to learn about Aaliyah, they had only got wind that something may be not quite right with Kelly after watching the Boondocks and kept asking for more info. I didn’t want to kill the vibe so I changed the subject and started on reggae.
“You know who Peter Tosh is right” I asked.
It was like I was talking a foreign language. “Nah, the biggest name in reggae right now is JA Cure” said one.
I looked at them, all in agreement, they looked at me, and then I said “you mean the convicted rapist who just come out of prison for raping a woman at gun point – that JA Cure”. My nieces were horrified, they couldn’t believe it. Our internet was down so I told them to look it up on their phones. Within minutes everything I said was being confirmed. There was silence as the testimony of one of his victims was read out.
I told them that I was now my duty to provide them with some good classic and contemporary tunes in order to educate them about proper artists whose music and lyrics stand for something we can be proud of. They asked for some names. They didn’t know any non commercial UK artists like Incognito, Sarah Fontayne, Ty or Soweto Kinch, nor US performers even Maxwell, Lela James, Patrice Rushen, Kindred, Fertile Ground, Angela Johnson or Conya Doss but Jill Scott got a nod, alongside India Arie and a even Force MD’s whose Tender Love they recognised from some African American TV sitcom.
We just done the conversation and then that blasted hymn Amazing Grace came blaring across the TV (this is the seasonal bit two).
“You know the writer of this song, John Newton was a rapist who was a leading figure in slavery right’ someone said.
Older faces in the room started to look vexed, too much information, I sighed… not going there tonight.
So what did I learn?
Well there were two main lessons, the first was around the issue of morality. Should we continue supporting the work of so called ‘celebrities’ or ‘stars’ that display absolutely no respect for us (or themselves)?
The young people asked me my opinion on Michael Jackson and I was conflicted. I could only answer that now he has gone it’s unlikely we will ever know one way or another so I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.
But then, consider the current racism in football debates. Hardly any of these footballers have ever stood up on the behalf of you and I when it comes to tackling the racism and socio-political inequality that we face in our daily lives - none. And yet these are the role muddle many of our children aspire too.
But look at what is happening today. Now that they themselves are personally the victims of racist abuse, they want our support, they want us to ‘twitter’ and protest on their behalf. The problem is we have no choice due to the universal nature of the issue we must adopt a ‘touch one, touch all’ stance. But simultaneously we also need to learn this should be as far as it goes. Until these entertainers and sporters are active campaigners in our community and become people who use their fame and ‘celebrity’ to highlight the issues that no-one else will, like many of our greatest Ancestors did, we should not be supporting their careers financially or spiritually. All of these role muddles owe their success to the sacrifices made by the generation that came before. They betray us all with their silence, especially when most are already very wealthy.
This leads onto the second lesson. It’s often said that teaching today’s young people about their history and culture is too difficult. I disagree. Yes it’s challenging if we only focus on the negatives, I mean who wants to study a topic if by the time class finishes you always end up feeling depressed.
No we have to look at the teaching of our history differently and that’s where we can realise that from many of those negatives come several positives stories, which includes the manner in which we have found ways to survive with our dignity intact, to hold onto our faith and culture and use art to creatively express our history and future aspirations.
I may have sounded tough on my nieces and nephews but we also had a lot of fun discussing music. What I also found out was that there were many songs where even though they did not know the names of the performers, they knew the lyrics. This means we continue to have an opportunity to teach our history in another way, to capture the attention and develop cultural awareness within our youth using imaginative means.
In my home, music is wired to play across the whole house. When I’m listening to Nina, so is everybody else, when Fela starts chanting, everyone is tapping their feet, when Donnie starts singing we all smile, when Bob chants down Babylon we all reflect no matter what we are doing. Whether it be reggae or soul, zouk or garage, music becomes another vehicle to deliver us soul food and lift our spirits and moods in a world gone bad.
Don’t get me wrong, some of my family have admitted to ‘liking’ the nonsense produced by performers like Justin Bieber… it hurts, but then they also appreciate John Coltrane and Stevie Wonder. Go figure, it’s a new generation.
Anyways as far as I’m concerned as long as there is balance then a little bit of pop (as long as I don’t hear it on my amp or speakers) is a small price to pay for reclaiming our musical heritage and developing a holistic means of cultural education.
Oh… happy holidays, enjoy Kwanzaa (that was the seasonal bit three)
May the Ancestors guide and protect us.
Toyin Agbetu is a writer,
film director, poet, and founder of Ligali, the pan African human rights based organisation.
Missed UN initiative prompts African identity campaign
The African Or Black Question (TAOBQ) campaign highlights issues around African identity and postulates that people of African heritage in Britain should be called African, instead of black
2011 was declared by the United Nations (UN) as the International Year For People Of African Descent. This prompted history consultant and community activist Kwaku to start 'The African Or Black Question', a guerilla documentary which solicits the views of a diverse group of London’s African community on the UN initiative and the preferred descriptor of their racial identity.
The documentary, filmed in the latter part of 2011, shows that the UN initiative seems to have passed by mostly un-noticed, and was a missed opportunity to put the African identity on the table for discussion. In the course of making the documentary, the aim has morphed into the TAOBQ (The African Or Black Question) campaign, which postulates that people of African heritage in Britain should be called African, or terms like African British or African Caribbean, where geo-specificity is necessary.
The film will be premiered as part of the You Are African discussion, a free event taking place at Westminster City Hall in London’s Victoria area, on Friday January 20 2012, 6-8.30pm, where attendees and special guests will discuss issues around African identity (booking via www.taobq.eventbrite.com).
The TAOBQ campaign provides an opportunity for us to begin to claim our African heritage by proudly describing ourselves as African, and refusing to be described by a colour, which has negative connotations, such as black market, black sheep, blackmail, and black Monday.
Black is a term that does not recognise the African identity or connection with the African continent. It was once a powerful and unifying political term, which embraced “ethnic minorities” such as Africans and Asians. However, the latter have in recent years forged a separate identity, whether or not they were born in Asia, which has led to classifications such as Black And Asian, and Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic.
You are welcome to get involved and help bring about a change in how African people are described. For more information, please go to: www.taobq.blogspot.com.
For more information, contact: Kwaku
Search TAOBQ on the social networks
Full Article >>
KWANZAAWEEK (26th Dec - 1st Jan)
Kwanzaa is an African Cultural Celebration, not a Religious celebration.
A week of activities have been designed to reflect the daily principles of KWANZAA
We have activities for Adults, Young People and Children
This time is about: Family, Community, Love, Reflection and Honesty.
It is important that we keep hold of our values, enabling our future generations to build fromt the foundation set.
We hope to see as many of you who can attend.
These events are FREE
Lunch/Dinner - £1
Donations are welcome
(Book donations are welcome - Please contact us if you are interested as we have a list of books we are trying to acquire to support many courses that are run)
Location: The Nub, Walthamstow
If you are thinking of joining us please contact us (Need to know numbers to cater for):
Call: 07956 337 391
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Monday - Friday (Bring your Training gear & Towel)
10:30 - Arrival
11:00 - 11:45 - Training (Various forms throughout the week)
11:45 - 12:00 - Pack Mats away
12:00 - 13:00 - Meditation
13:00 - 13:30 - KWANZAA Ceremony (Lighting the Kinara, Libations, Affirmations, Principles of MAAT
13:30 - 14:00 - Lunch
14:00 - 15:30 - WORKSHOPS
- 26th Dec: Unity - Beyond Black History Month
- 27th Dec: Self Determination - I Am Enough
- 28th Dec: Collective Work & Responsibility - Work & War
- 29th Dec: Cooperative Economics - Finance
- 30th Dec: Purpose - Ability to Create
15:30 - 16:00 - Break
16:00 - 17:00 - Book Club: Octavia E Butler - Kindred
Other activities for those of you not joining us each day
10:30 - 14:00 - Same as above
14:00 - 18:00
- 31st Dec: Creativity - Basics on Natural Hair & Chess & Martial Arts
18:00 - 19:00 - Dinner
19:00 - 19:30 - Our Kwanzaa
19:30 - 21:00 - QUIZ (With Prizes)
Sunday - (Bring your Overnight Bags/Sleeping Bags)
10:30 - 16:00 - Same as Monday - Friday
- 1st Jan: Faith - Blueprint for Black Power
16:00 - 18:00 -
TRILOGY DVD NIGHT
18:00 - 20:00 - Besouro
20:00 - 20:45 - Dinner
21:00 - 00:00 - Avatar
00:30 - 02:30 - Apocalypto
03:00 - SLEEP
Asante (Thank You)
Kujichagulia (Self Determination) - Tue 27 December 2011
Where: West Indian Community Centre, 10 Laycock Place Leeds LS7 3JA
When: 3pm til Late
Contact: 0113 262 8739 / 07974 611 667
Where: Legends Social Club, Oxley street, Wolverhampton WV1 1DN
When: 7pm – 10pm
Contact: 07855 878 322 / 07956 447 576
Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) – Wednesday 28 December 2011
Where: Malcolm X Community centre, 141 City Road, St Pauls, Bristol BS2 8YH
When: 2pm – 8pm
Contact: 01179 554 497
Nia (Purpose) – Friday 30th December 2011
Where: Camp Lane Development Centre, Raleigh Industrial Estate, 176 Camp Lane, Handsworth, Birmingham B21 8JA
When: 4pm – 10pm
Contact: 0121 554 2747 / 07940 709 311
Where: 55 Willington Road, Clapham North, London SW9 9NB
When: 3pm – 10pm
Contact: 07940 005 907
Listen to the Pan-Afrikan People’s Phone-in on Sundays 7-10pm at: www.pascf.org.uk
On air lines: (Phone) –0208 144 4547; (Skype) - panafrikanpeoplesphonein
A number of people have reported that they are having problems connecting with the station. If you have any such problems please copy and paste the following link into your internet browser:http://www.live365.com/cgi-bin/mini.cgi?station_name=kalydosos&site=pro&tm=8245
Imani (Faith) – Sunday 1 January 2012
Where: West Indian Sports and Social Club, 2 Westwood Street, Moss Side, Manchester M14 5SW When: 4pm – 10pm
Contact: 07908 820 918 / 07766 270 509
Nyansapo - In service to our family, with the spirit of our Ancestors
LIGALI is a Pan African, human rights organisation. It is maintained and funded entirely
by friends and family of the Ligali organisation, donations are welcome as we need your help to
keep it running.
NYANSAPO is the name of one of the many Adinkra symbols in Akan culture, it is a knot that is so intricately tied it is said that, “only the wise can untie the wisdom knot”. This ebe (proverb) points to the fact that only wisdom affords one the ability to see parts in relation to the whole within which they belong. Wisdom breeds patience, and the insight needed to untangle complex issues and arrive at just solutions grounded in divine order without profaning Ancestral culture in the process.
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Ligali, PO Box 1257, London E5 0UD. Tel: 020 8986 1984